Who is The Michigan Gaming Control Board? Part 2: The Board Members


Ms. Rom of Bloomfield Hills, partner of Pepper Hamilton, LLP law firm in Detroit. Ms. Rom is reappointed for a term expiring December 31, 2011. She succeeds Ritchie T. Davis whose term has expired. ( on MGCB site, different on Governors site )


The Detroit Free Press has reported today that the chairperson of the Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”), Damian Kassab has resigned. Following the announcement, the Michigan Gaming Newsletter confirmed the resignation with Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s office and was advised that Ms. Barbara Rom had been appointed by the Governor as the new chairperson. Mr. Kassab served on the MGCB since 2003. In 2008, he was reappointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm for a term that expires in 2012. Ms. Rom was originally appointed to the MGCB in 2004 and was reappointed by Gov. Granholm on January 30, 2008 to a term expiring December 31, 2011. Rom was previously a partner of the Pepper Hamilton, LLP law firm, past-president of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association and has been actively involved with numerous groups and committees working on a wide range of legal issues and community service matters.

The other two current board members include the Honorable Benjamin Friedman of Huntington Woods and Mr. Michael Watza of Northville. Mr. Kassab’s resignation leaves two of the five seats open on the MGCB, which is responsible for implementing the Michigan Gaming Control & Revenue Act. Pursuant to the Michigan Gaming Control & Revenue Act, as amended (Public Act 69 of 1997; MCL 432.201) or (“the Act”), Section 432.204 states “[i]n the event of a vacancy on the board, the governor shall appoint in like manner a successor to fill the expired term.” Also, Section 432.204 (17) (i) of the Act states that three members of the board are required to constitute a quorum, except when making determinations on applications for casino licenses, where four members are required to constitute a quorum. It further states, “[t]hree votes shall be required in support of final determinations of the board on applications for casino licenses.

 Crain’s Detroit Business has selected Rom as one of “Detroit’s Most Influential Women.”

Barbara Rom, for nearly four decades, has been a top metro Detroit bankruptcy lawyer, and in recent years has run the Detroit office of one of the country’s largest law firms.

Rom, 60, has helped to boost the careers of other rising star women attorneys, and she’s been a go-to attorney on some of the area’s top bankruptcy cases.

Retiring next month, the 1972 University of Michigan Law School graduate hopes to serve next on for-profit boards of directors and is taking a course at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business “to better educate myself in that arena.”

While not taking on any new cases this year, as she winds down her practice, Rom continued representing developer Samir Danou on his Allen Park movie studio project, and client HTG Tiffin L.L.C., an auto supplier that eventually liquidated.

Other cases in recent years included representing the debtor in the auction of Tipton, Ind.-based Steel Parts Corp. an engineering design, stamping and welding company whose sales and engineering offices are based in Novi.

She represented the creditors’ committee for Fraser-based Jacobs Industries Inc., manufacturer of auto body components and robotics equipment and also mediated numerous adversary proceedings in the bankruptcy of Southfield-based Collins & Aikman Corp., a supplier of auto carpeting and other interior items.

Alongside her practice and activities in area, state and national legal affairs, Rom has for the past five years been on the five-member Michigan Gaming Control Board, which oversees Detroit’s three commercial casinos.

On the gaming board, Rom used her bankruptcy restructuring experience to advise on Greektown Casino Hotel L.L.C.’s procedures through its current restructuring. Both Assistant Attorney General Don McGehee and control board Executive Director Rick Kalm said her knowledge was particularly valuable during the process.


Honorable Benjamin Friedman of Huntington Woods, partner of Friedman & Lichterman, P.C. law firm and previous 45B District Court judge is reappointed for a term expiring December 31, 2011. He succeeds The Honorable Roman S. Gribbs whose term has expired. He has been a member of the Bar for 50 years.



Mr. Michael Watza of Northville, partner of Kitch, Wagner, Valitutti and Sherwood, is appointed for a term expiring December 31, 2012. He succeeds the Honorable Michael Stacy whose term has expired.


Above Three obviously picked for Law Backgrounds.


And who the 4th vote was


Mr. Jim Plakas has been appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm to the Michigan Gaming Control Board. He succeeds Mr. Damian Kassab, who resigned in December of 2009. Jim Plakas’ term will expire on December 31, 2012.

Ex-Garden City Mayor

Originally Published: February 25, 2010 2:36 PM  Modified: February 25, 2010 3:14 PM

Ex-Garden City Mayor Jim Plakas appointed to Michigan Gaming Control Board

Former state representative and Garden City mayor Jim Plakas has been appointed to the Michigan Gaming Control Board by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Prior to Plakas’ appointment, the five-seat board had just three board members, preventing the issue of any new gaming licenses — which under Michigan law requires four votes. Other business items require three votes.

“This is a very interesting part of government and I’m excited to be part of it,” said Plakas.

Last month, the chairman of the gaming board, Damian Kassab, resigned from his position. Barbara Rom is now chair of the board.

Finding board members is considered a difficult task because members do not receive any financial compensation for serving.

Regardless, Plakas said he is eager to be on the board.

If a fourth board member could not have been appointed by June, it would have stalled the Greektown Casino Hotel’s exit from bankruptcy said Charles Moore, senior managing director at Birmingham-based turnaround firm Conway, MacKenzie & Dunleavy, the casino’s lead restructuring adviser.

The final issue to be resolved in the long-running bankruptcy restructuring is to have the gaming board approve the new owners and directors of the casino. A deadline set by the court requires the licensing issues to be approved by June 30, Moore said.

Approval of new casino licenses requires a four-person vote, he said.

“This is a very interesting part of government and I’m excited to be part of it,” ??????

Well I am so glad he is excited, but this sounds like a little kid who has a new subject he’s looking forward to learning about. And I have a problem with this.  Interesting? Your job and VOTE holds a lot of livelihoods in your hands. Way too many to vote on subject matters that you have no knowledge on.

Don’t get me wrong. Jim Plakas is a very very nice man. I’ve met him and even spoken with him informally. Somebody very close to me knows him even better and has been friends with him 40+ years. I was with this individual at Plato’s in 2007 where Mayor Plakas and his friends celebrated his Mayoral Victory. Unless somebody is very mistaken and the records are wrong,  Jim Plakas was Garden City’s Mayor from 89-93, and 2007-2009. Which would have him being Mayor 6 years not 10. He was a Rep. for many years but again. WHAT ARE HIS QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE MGCB?

He knows absolutely nothing about Casino’s and most certainly does not know one thing about the Horse Racing Industry and the business of their tracks. He has no experience at all in either Industry. Mayor of small city and presiding over whether baseball fields are going to be taken care of for 2 and a half months for the city’s sports youth program, and casting Votes now on Casino and Horse Racing are so far apart it’s startling to define. He has no Idea how many people and jobs that really are connected to Horse Racing. Reality is, Jim Plakas as nice as an individual he is has zero experience and no qualifications what so ever to be a member of the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

And Interesting Part of Government that your excited about and have not yet learned about at all, but you were the 4th vote that took a Casino from one group and it was the deciding vote to hand it to another. But do you know exactly why? Your lack of knowledge just guided you to follow the others.  That is the question that should be asked and answered and should be of great concern to many. Bad enough Horse Racing had to be placed under this Gaming Board that only has Casino’s on their minds. But when the Governor appoints totally unknowledgable people to be a part of a Gaming Board. How can one cast a vote when they know nothing of subject matter? Interesting indeed and Frightening.

Hopefully he will gain much needed insight very soon. Because sitting there with 3 Lawyers ( Barbara Rom has excelled in Bankruptcy), and thinking they more know more than you on gaming can make for some very bad and damaging decisions. But maybe that’s what their banking on. Lawyers and used car salesmen aren’t that far apart. Just look at our judicial system with the plea deals.

I’m not saying Jim Plakas is a push over, but he definitely can be swayed by people who have been on this gaming board a lot longer. And after reading and researching the executive director of this group firing a man who questioned positions and how laxed the laws are concerning tribunal liquor licenses. One has to put a face on all this. Somebody is pulling the strings here from the Governor to the Attorney General. And if somebody even thinks of rocking this boat, they are gone. To bring in a man for a very important 4th vote on a Casino deal. Just being a former Mayor doesn’t mean you have the experience for the task at hand. So maybe to him it is a very interesting part of government and he’s excited to be part of it.

But personally I don’t want excitement, I want knowledge. The more the better.

And everyone else should want the same.


Kenneth Sanborn was appointed in Dec. 2010

Kenneth Sanborn was appointed to a term expiring in 2014.  Sanborn of Washington Township is a retired Macomb Circuit Court judge and Macomb County Probate Court judge.  Prior to his judgeships, Sanborn served as a Republican state representative and Clinton Township supervisor.  He succeeds Michael Watza who resigned in July of 2010.


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Filed under Detroit News, Government, Michigan Horse Racing, Michigan News, News, Politics, Sports, The Michigan Gaming Control Board

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